Tuesday 20 October

Across the lakes to the banks of autumn colour at Sheffield Park

Thanks to the careful planting of Sheffield Park owners over the centuries, we are lucky enough to have a long autumn season; where different species pass the torch and add to the spectacle at different times.

But, if we had to pick a high point, then the next two weeks would be it.

The autumn big-hitters are in full swing and our many acers are a feast of vibrancy. The vivid crimson Acer palmatum is a firm favourite with visitors, and for good reason. They are practically glowing at the moment. 

A bright red acer at Sheffield Park in mid-October
A bright red acer at Sheffield Park in mid-October
A bright red acer at Sheffield Park in mid-October

The large Carya cordiformis (Bitternut hickory) by reception is a bright and beautiful gold, as is the smaller but equally dramatic Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory) by the exit. 

A lot of our Nyssa sylvatica have now turned, including the bright red Nyssa sylvatica 'Sheffield Park' for which our place is well known. It is interesting to see the various micro-climates and differences in varieties as you walk around the site. You will notice that while some have entirely autumn coloured leaves, others are still wonderfully green. 

Bold autumn colours at Sheffield Park - Nyssa sylvatica and Liquidambar
Nyssa sylvatica and Liquidambar autumn colours at Sheffield Park
Bold autumn colours at Sheffield Park - Nyssa sylvatica and Liquidambar

On the right of this picture is a Nyssa sylvatica and on the left a Liquidambar, another key autumn tree which can be readily spotted around the gardens. 

Many of our native broadleaf trees have taken a turn for the dramatic, though again there is a large variation. Our oak (Quercus sp.), beech (Fagus sp.) and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) trees in particular are showing a full spectrum of colour at the moment. 

Did you know that beech trees can hang onto their leaves all winter, only shedding just before new buds emerge in the spring. Take a moment to admire the striking copper beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) overlooking the waterfall on Church Walk, or our ancient pollarded Sweet chestnuts which were planted in 1560. 

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With the mild autumn weather we’ve having this year, our kingfishers on the lakes are really active hunting for small fish. If you are lucky, you might spot a blaze of blue darting over the waters. They can also be found on our parkland, so keep an eye out for the unmistakable flash of turquoise as you explore the wider estate. 

If you are lucky you might spot a Kingfisher by the River Ouse
A Kingfisher sitting on a branch over a river
If you are lucky you might spot a Kingfisher by the River Ouse

And there is more, much much more.

Enjoy the Taxodium distichum (swamp cypress) to the north of Ten Foot Pond. Of particular interest are their pneumatophores (or knees as they are often known) which are evident when these trees grow near water or in swampy conditions.

There has been an explosion of fungi over that past few weeks and the distinctive Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) are particularly abundant.

Fly agaric mushrooms at Sheffield Park
A large number of Fly agaric mushrooms at Sheffield Park
Fly agaric mushrooms at Sheffield Park

Plus, as with last week, the Euonymus are a stunning deep red shade; the Fothergilla are still looking splendid; the rowan and holly berries are a bold and beautiful scarlet; the heart shaped leaves of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura or candyfloss) trees near Nyssa Grove are smelling lovely and are hanging on to the last of their leaves; and the Parrotia persica (Persian ironwood) is wreathed in a majestic red. 

Sheffield Park late autumn trees towards Pulham Falls

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